Secular Religion is the greatest threat to true godliness for the faithful.
Classical pagan governments had no Bill of Rights or separation between religion and state to protect citizens. In the Roman Empire, the emperor was deified; all religions were a subset of the state. Patriotism became a religious personality cult, worshiping the Emperor. This was Christianity's fate in the 4th century when Constantine adopted Christianity and made it the religion of the Roman Empire. Essentially, the Roman emperor, Constantine, became the religious leader of the world and the Christian churches became extension of the Roman State. Modern Christianity is an evolution of this secular-religious political marriage.
This secular-religious marriage could only be accomplished by abandoning the Hebrew Roots of the Christian faith. Jews who converted to Christianity in Constantinople (Constantine's church), had to renounce all connections with Judaism, even their Jewish families. This anti-semitic attitude was accomplished by ignoring the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as having any bearing on the New Testament faith.Jesus' ministry and teachings were seen as something new under the sun and hence open to speculation as to their meanings.
This opened the way for pagan forms of religious expression and belief to become more acceptable in the Christian church. All modern attempts to portray the popular practice and belief systems of Christianity as an evolution from their original 1st century forms fail. All modern forms of Christianity do not derive from original 1st century Hebrew forms. They derive from the marriage of pagan politics and an anti-semitic parody of the original.
Ignoring the symmetry of the Hebrew Bible (and Israel's last prophet, Jesus Christ) with the New Testament, opens the door to philosophical speculation of Jesus' teachings. No longer was Jesus' ministry seen as a purification of Torah, the writings and teachings of Moses. No longer was Jesus' ministry seen as confounding and correcting the corruptions of Jewish religion of his day by the Pharisees. Intellectual speculation about Jesus' ministry and teachings gave rise to a secular-political religion but still called Christian — a weak parody of the original.
The Hebrews respected and feared the prophets and priests but they were not a political power. But under this evolved secular-religious Christian faith, priests, bishops, pastors and reverends take on an air of authority and rulership not found in scripture. Instead of being advisors and guides supporting the faithful, religious leaders become overlords and rulers in a hierarchical manner. This can easily be seen in religious leaders establishing institutions with doctrinal positions and policies which are then enforced upon the followers — the members of the institutions. The leaders themselves are often presented as having near godlike attributes, divinely ordained and intercessors to the deity for the people — replacing Jesus Christ. They become greater personages than regular followers, overlords of the faithful.
When the state evolves to become divine, its prince becomes the Divine Intercessor and it minions the priesthood. The state becomes the provider of all that is good for the people. The hierarchy of state officials with their accomplices determines what is best for the people, determines who is a sinner and only the Intercessor can absolve sin. Any and all offenses against the Intercessor becomes religious heresy and will be punished. Instead of the state adopting a religion, the political state has become the religion, in parody of the Roman Empire and its deified Emperors.
Today’s political leaders often seem to be deified after the manner of the Roman Emperors with followers who swoon over them in adoration and worship. These same political leaders assume the role and impress their ideas on the people instead of reflecting what the people want. Such leaders are often presented to the public in religious terms, such as boasting the most outlandish, godlike talents, reminiscent of the Deeds of the Divine Caesar Augustus or the exploits of the Greek demi-gods.
In America, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has often been described as the world’s most brilliant woman. Likewise, Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are presented as the greatest and wisest minds of their age. This puffery is necessary to create a human interface between the people and the deified state, as seen in all Marxist cults of propaganda, erected for every socialist and communist leader. Fanatical loyalty to a state leader is a religious experience for the adherents of their political ideology. One political commentator even said listening to a speech by the President gave him a "thrill up his leg". I'm sure many church attendees might say the same thing regarding some of their preacher's sermons.
Beware of secular religion, whether it be in your church, your local school, your college or in your government.